Saint Vitus, sometimes called Guy, was a child nobly born, who had the happiness to be instructed in the Faith under the tutelage of his Christian nurse, Crescentia, and Modestus, his preceptor. His father was not aware of his baptism. The boy received the gift of miracles. Before he reached the age of twelve, Valerian came to Sicily representing Diocletian, less to be governor of that island than persecutor of Christians. Vitus was denounced to him as one of them, and Valerian sent for his father, telling him to use his paternal authority to bring his son into line, and have him practice the religion of the empire. Hylas promised to do so.
Finding Vitus unmoved by his tears and embraces, his warnings of what he would lose if he did not acquiesce to the emperor's wishes, and every persuasion based on the grief his son would cause him by continuing to adore a man who died on an ignominious cross, Hylas delivered Vitus up to Valerian. The governor in turn could not change this child's mind; when Valerian asked him why he resisted his father's will and did not submit to the emperor's laws, Vitus answered, I only disobey the emperors and my father to obey God, my sovereign Lord and first Father. He did not fear chastisement, he said, or death, and would gladly endure all things rather than adore demons, the sworn enemies of men.
Valerian ordered that he be scourged; but the arms of the executioners grew limp, and even the hand of Valerian, which he had raised to give the command, withered. They accused him of being a magician, but Saint Vitus cured them, to show them that the spirit of Jesus Christ is one of gentleness, and that His true disciples have only love for all their enemies. Hylas, his father, furious at his son's refusal to comply with all efforts to change him, resolved to put him to death. But Modestus, his tutor, was told by an Angel to flee with him and his nurse, Crescentia, to Italy.
There all three would win the crown of martyrdom. Diocletian himself, hearing of the miracles of Saint Vitus, sent for him but then imprisoned him, after Vitus had delivered the emperor's son from a demon, but had refused to deny Jesus Christ. A furious lion would not harm the young Christian, but lay down at his feet and licked them. When he and his two Christian preceptors were attached to racks and tortured, their protecting Angel released them, but not until after lightning had struck the idol temples and caused them to fall, amidst a terrible storm. Many idolater among the spectators were converted on this occasion. They were set free after this incident, but Saint Vitus prayed that their souls might finally be released also, and his prayer was answered. They were buried at the place to which they had first come in Italy, in the kingdom of Naples.
|St. Vitus Reliquary, |
late 15th century
The relics of St. Vitus (also known as St. Guy) were transferred to various places -- an arm is in St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague. Vitus is one of the "Fourteen Holy Helpers" (he is invoked against epilepsy and St. Vitus' dance).
Patron: Vitus: actors; against animal attacks; against dog bites; against lightning; against oversleeping; against storms; against wild beasts; comedians; Czechoslovakia; dancers; dog bites; dogs; epilepsy; Forio, Italy; lightning; oversleeping; Prague, Czech Republic; rheumatic chorea; Saint Vitus Dance; snake bites; storms.
Symbols: Vitus: Wolf or lion; cockatrice on a book; fire; cock; chained dog; cauldron of boiling oil; palm and cauldron; palm and dog; chalice and dog; sword and dog; sword and rooster;
Often Portrayed as: Boy with a rooster and a cauldron; With Modestus and Crescentia as they refuse to worship idols; being put into an oven; young prince with a palm and sceptre.
Crescentia: Boat piloted by an angel; cauldron of oil; sword.
Prayer of the Church
WE BESEECH Thee, O Lord, to graciously grant us through the intercession of Thy blessed Martyrs Vitus, Modestus, and Crescentia, that we may not proudly exalt ourselves, but serve Thee in humility and simplicity, so as to avoid evil and to do right for Thy sake. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Novena in Honor of St. Vitus
Preparatory Prayer the Novena
ALMIGHTY and eternal God! With lively faith and reverently worshiping Thy Divine Majesty, I prostrate myself before Thee and invoke with filial trust Thy supreme bounty and mercy. Illumine the darkness of my intellect with a ray of Thy Heavenly light and inflame my heart with the fire of Thy Divine love, that I may contemplate the great virtues and merits of the Saint in whose honor I make this novena, and following his example imitate, like him, the life of Thy Divine Son.
Moreover, I beseech Thee to grant graciously, through the merits and intercession of this powerful Helper, the petition which through him I humbly place before Thee, devoutly saying, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven." Vouchsafe graciously to hear it, if it redounds to Thy greater glory and to the salvation of my soul. Amen.
Prayer in Honor of St. Vitus
GRANT US, O God, through the intercession of St. Vitus, a due estimation of the value of our soul and of its redemption by the precious blood of Thy Son Jesus Christ; so that, for its salvation, we bear all trials with fortitude. Give this Thy youthful servant and heroic martyr as a guide and protector to Christian youths, that following his example they may after a victorious combat receive the crown of justice in Heaven.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Invocation of St. Vitus
ST. VITUS, glorious Martyr of Christ; in thy youth thou wast exposed to violent and dangerous temptations, but in the fear of God and for the love of Jesus thou didst victoriously overcome them. O amiable, holy youth, I implore thee by the love of Jesus, assist me with thy powerful intercession to overcome the temptations to evil, to avoid every occasion of sin, and thus to preserve spotless the robe of innocence and sanctifying grace, and to bring it unstained to the judgment-seat of Jesus Christ, that I may forever enjoy the Beatific Vision of God which is promised to the pure of heart. Amen.
My Lord and God! I offer up to Thee my petition in union with the bitter passion and death of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, together with the merits of His immaculate and blessed Mother, Mary ever virgin, and of all the Saints, particularly with those of the holy Helper in whose honor I make this novena.
Look down upon me, merciful Lord! Grant me Thy grace and Thy love, and graciously hear my prayer. Amen.
Saint Vitus, Pray for us, Amen
Saint Modestus, Pray for us, Amen
Saint Crescentia, Pray for us, Amen